Company-Car Drivers Losing Personal No-Claims Bonuses
Many company car drivers believe that their company’s car insurance policy and their own car insurance for their personal vehicles are completely separate.
They think that a claim on their employer's insurance will not have any effect on their own insurance premiums. This is leading those company car drivers to accept responsibility for accidents that they have in their work cars, thinking that their own no-claims bonus will not be affected. Sadly, however, they are mistaken.
This mistaken belief has been highlighted by the Asset Protection Unit (APU), a body that operates on behalf of the car insurance companies to investigate claims. The APU has found a large increase in the number of company-car drivers incorrectly accepting blame, a trend that is pushing up the price of corporate fleet insurance. According to the APU, the most common misuse of a company car insurance policy is when drivers prematurely, or even falsely, accept blame for an accident. The vast majority of company-car drivers are simply attempting to act responsibly when they admit they are at fault in the event of an accident. Some, however, may be doing so to gain a financial benefit as the result of a fraud.
The director of investigative services at APU, Neil Thomas, tells a different story. He says that such drivers have a lack of awareness about the reality of how the insurance industry works. He says that company-car drivers are wrong if they think that a claim that names them as a driver on their company insurance will not affect their own private no-claims bonus. In fact, he says, it does, and such drivers could be in for an unpleasant surprise when it comes time to renew their own private-car insurance. He added that many drivers just don’t know that accepting liability on a company insurance policy will impact their own private insurance, damaging their no-claims bonus and costing them money in increased premiums. A smaller number of drivers, however, are actually colluding with criminals, accepting liability for either a staged accident or for a completely fictitious one so that the criminals get an insurance payout that they can then share with the company-car driver.
The APU’s anti-fraud investigators use sophisticated technology to reconstruct how accidents happen in order to support or disprove the accounts given by drivers. They also use forensic techniques to gather evidence from the crash scene, specifically on the vehicles and how they are damaged. This can tell them a lot about how an accident happened, including impact speeds and angles of the collision. A recent development has helped them gain an even greater insight into how accidents have happened. In-car telematics devices have been installed in many cars, sometimes by insurance companies themselves. These record how the vehicle is being driven at the time of an accident and can be of great help in uncovering what actually happened.
More sophisticate systems have been installed in many commercial vehicles and company cars as a result of these types of vehicles being a target for insurance fraudsters. These systems often include cameras which film the road ahead. The footage is uploaded to the company’s servers and can instantly be recalled in the event of an accident. This visual evidence, in conjunction with the telematics data, has resulted in a huge decrease in fraudulent insurance claims and has been instrumental in reducing the policy costs of many big fleet operators.
Insurance companies have been quick to take advantage of telematics devices, with a view to lowering premiums for certain high-risk groups. They can, for example, be installed in the cars of new drivers to monitor how, or even when, they are driven. This information can then be used to provide such drivers with a lower insurance premium based on how they actually drive rather than on simply their age, for example. With the same systems now being used by the APU to combat fraud, it seems that telematics in our cars could soon be even more common.